Monday, April 14, 2008

Show Me Love

At church, I’ve been taking a class going through The Truth Project. It’s a DVD series put together by Focus on the Family and led by Del Tackett. It’s got a lot of wonderful stuff in it. I highly recommend it to everyone. For Christians, it puts together the things of the Bible and how we should live in a comprehensive way. For non-Christians, it helps one to understand what Christianity is and isn’t as well as why a belief in God is logical as well as full of faith.

This week, we went through the last “tour” as they call it. The last tour went over the Christian’s responsibility in regards to community and involvement. In Matthew 37-40, Jesus said, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” Jesus doesn’t tell us who our neighbor is but rather how we ought to be a good neighbor to others [see Luke 10:25-37].

Romans 12:13 says, “Share with God’s people who are in need.” Mr. Tackett helps us understand who are the needy. He recalls coming home from his first dance, having his father ask him if he had a good time, and if everyone had a good time. His father asked him if there were girls there who weren’t asked to dance and Mr. Tackett said there were a few. Then his father asked if he thought that those girls had a good time.

Now, my parents raised me to be a good person; they didn’t raise me to be a Christian. I became a Christian in my teens and then I started on the journey of learning to be more Christian than yesterday, and that journey doesn’t end until I’m in heaven so I’m still on that journey. I thought back to my years in school and how I could have been a better person to those in need. I hope that I have been good to people, but I fear that I wasn’t good to all people.

As much as I remember, I wasn’t a monster. I was basically nice to everyone…unless one upset me. I certainly never thought of myself as popular or of being in the in-crowd. I had a longing to belong and to be invited places. I was one of those kids that were chosen last in P.E. and so I remember the one time I wasn’t chosen last; in fact, I overheard someone [I remember exactly who] say to the leader to pick me because I was good at that sport.

Yet, I knew that there were others who were more on the outskirts than I had perceived myself to be. The guys had the skinny kid to pick on and tie up under the guise of friendship with boredom; I would sometimes, not always, untie him. He mostly took it. The guys would sometimes do those things to the skinny kid to provoke someone like me, usually me because I was around a lot, to do the untying, and I resented it. I resented that the guys couldn’t get it into their heads that they were doing wrong and always expected me to make it right, but how could I make any of that right. If they had found a gun on the skinny kid, I would not have been surprised.

Nobody seemed to want anything to do with these two girls if they could help it. The one girl always had her long hair in a thick braid; the other had frizzy unkempt-looking hair. They had acne and sometimes smelled funny; I couldn’t say what it smelled like because I didn’t know. Thank goodness they had each other and they held close to each other, but I would not have been surprised if they had conspired something against the other kids, including myself. I wasn’t invited to any parties in high school and so I had no parties to invite these girls to, but how would they have known that I wasn’t invited either. I would greet them, sometimes have small conversations with them, but I didn’t know what they liked, what they hoped for their future, how their families are doing, I didn’t even ask.

Even some of the “cooler” kids had something that others held against them. Rumors of conceit, of homosexuality, of unintelligence, I’ve heard them all. I’ve heard about what was said of me. I was very aware that there were people who did not like me and were not going to change their mind no matter what. We all had those people against us for whatever reason and some of us more than others. I had a friend who was the sweetest thing, always smiling, always apologizing even if I was the one who bumped into her; everyone liked her, but some said it was creepy. Doesn’t she ever frown? What’s wrong with her?

So what, Jennifer? Sounded like you had an okay high school experience. Sounded like you did as much good as you could. I hope I did my part, but I could have done more. What can I do about the past, I can’t turn back time. Well, I can do better this moment and from now on. I’m convicted that I should do better. I struggle with it. I’d rather not talk to certain people and some people with whom I’d like to talk to I don’t because I’m generally not a good conversationalist. But I can learn.

I returned to choir this past season and didn’t know everyone yet. I tend to arrive to practice early. One time, I was waiting on the benches when this woman sat next to me. after talking for a little while, I found out that night would be her first practice.

Then we went to practice where I learned that she wasn’t a good singer by any means and her breath wasn’t as pleasant as she was. She couldn’t read music and so she sat next to me in the soprano section and her voice threw me off. I listen to the voices of those closest to me to be in tune with them or to discern whether I’m on the right note or if they are and we correct ourselves, but from the new member I couldn’t discern any melody or voice part whatsoever. [But God hears our hearts and not the perfect pitch of our voices]

I’m still working on getting my social skills back in order and so I was reserved and shy on following occasions when I saw the woman. Then I felt God urging me to befriend the woman, even though others in the church already have. Now she is encouraging and welcoming to me every time she sees me at church [because choir is on a break]. I thought I was befriending her for God, but it turns out that God’s ministering to me through her and I cannot tell you how good that feels.

Lately, I’ve been reconnected with classmates and each time that happens I am amazed. I am touched that a person would think fondly of me and seek me out. When I’ve sought someone out and found them, I am touched when they greet me with plans of getting together with me. It tells me that I did something right in their memories of me. But I am still convicted of those I’ve wronged or those I’ve ignored and I pray for their sake.

I write this because I need to be reminded. I write this to urge the people reading this, Christians especially, to find someone unlovable and show them love. If one needs a little encouragement, I recommend requesting the CD from Focus on the Family called “A Man Called Norman” about a man who was dramatically changed after years of a neighbor showing him love when no one else would.